The Cascadia Corridor (Northwest of the United States): A limited territorial anchorage for a growing interurban rail service

By Matthieu Schorung

The Northwest Corridor is part of the Cascadia Region, stretching from Portland, Oregon, through Seattle, Washington, to Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. The Amtrak Cascades service is a high-speed rail service in which the managing states (Washington, Oregon) are heavily involved, in coordination with Amtrak and the freight company BNSF, which owns the infrastructure. It is important to understand why this corridor modernization programme is considered a model of its kind, both by Amtrak Cascades officials and by the federal government. This article therefore analyses US rail geography through the case study of the Cascades corridor and questions the process of territorialization of rail policies. The Cascades Corridor is a relevant case study for looking at a mixed-use corridor (freight and passengers) supported by highly committed public stakeholders despite the institutional and budgetary isolation of intercity rail transport. This analysis reveals a successful experience, welcomed by all public and private stakeholders, of modernizing an existing rail corridor, but only a partial territorialization process that does not take sufficient account of stations and station districts and ignores the metropolitan planning dimension of the transport project with regard to Seattle and Portland.

  • rail transport
  • corridor
  • Cascadia
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • rail stations
  • Amtrak
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